The Federal Government of Nigeria, on Wednesday, justified the approval of N1,145,000,000.00 for the purchase of vehicles for neighbouring Niger Republic.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Zainab Ahmed, spoke on the matter while fielding questions after the Federal Executive Council ( FEC) meeting presided over by the President at the State House, Abuja.
There had been outrage over the Federal Government’s largesse to the neighbouring country, as some have questioned why such money should be given to Niger Republic when public universities in Nigerian remained closed for about five months over the inability of the government to meet up with the demands of staff.
Responding to questions at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by President Buhari at the Council Chambers, Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Minister said Nigeria has a policy of assisting its neighbours to strengthen capacity to deal with insecurity.
The minister, who said the President reserved the right to take decisions in the interest of Nigeria, added that “this was not the first time the country is proving such interventions to her neighbours.”
She said the President had the prerogatives to take such decisions after a careful assessment of the situation.
According to her, over time, Nigeria has been supporting her neighbours, adding that the donation was to enhance the capacity of Niger Republic to maintain security.
“Let me just say that overtime, Nigeria has had to support its neighbours, especially the immediate neighbours to enhance their capacity to secure their countries as it relates to us. This is not the first time that Nigeria had assisted Niger Republic, Cameroon or Chad.
“The President makes an assessment as to what is required based on the request of their Presidents. Such requests are approved and interventions are provided.
“It is to enhance their capacity to protect their countries, as it relates to security and also to Nigeria.
She added that “Nigerians have the rights to ask questions, but also the President has the responsibility to make an assessment of what is in the best interest of the country and I cannot question the decision myself.
“I have said the this is not the first time and that Nigeria as a country has provided an intervention to our neighbours. It is in the best interest of Nigeria to do so.”
Report had indicated that President Buhari approved about 10 number Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles to the Republicans of Niger, but did not however, specify the purpose for such approval.